What do you do with a shoebox once you bing that new pair of shoes home? Do you store your new shoes in it or toss it in the trash? Do you keep it to store miscellaneous small items or give it to your cat to play with?
That’s all it’s good for isn’t it? Or is it worth far more that you ever imagined?
Every year millions of children around the world will attest to the fact that a shoebox has great worth. Because it is the vessel that carries gifts so they can experience the joy of Christmas. And the opportunity to experience the Gospel through Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
Since its inception in 1993 over 168 million Operation Christmas Child gift-filled boxes have been distributed to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
You may have heard of this awesome ministry which is a project of Samaritan’s Purse. You may even have taken part by packing a shoebox in a previous year. This project is a special opportunity to bless children around the world who may not otherwise receive a Christmas gift. If you haven’t packed a box before this is a great year to get involved.
If you ask my friend Teresa Raber, she will tell you that Operation Christmas Child is so much more than packing a few things in a shoebox.
Teresa is one of over 9000 year round volunteers and over 100,000 short-term volunteers in the United States who serve Operation Christmas Child.
I recently asked Teresa how she got involved with Operation Christmas Child and this is what she shared. “I’ve been packing shoeboxes as a participant for over 20 years. We started packing as a young married couple with no children when our church first introduced OCC to our congregation.
Twenty years later when we were blessed with a daughter we introduced her to packing shoeboxes. I’d been so impressed with this organization I committed to year round volunteering in 2016 as a Community Relations Team Member. In 2018 they asked me to step up and take the role of Community Relations Coordinator.
During this time my daughter Lydia who is now 10 years old decided that she would like to deliver and hand out shoeboxes in person someday. So at 6 years old she crafted a recycled envelope with the words across it: “Deliver Operation Christmas Child Boxes” Our Shoebox Journey isn’t over yet!”
I then asked her to tell me her favorite thing about OCC and this is her reply; “My favorite thing about OCC is that with each shoebox the Gospel message is given. And not only does that child hear the Gospel message up to 100 additional people – Per Shoebox also hear the Gospel message!!!
And here’s how. After a child receives a shoebox, they are invited to come back for a 12 week discipleship program (led by locals trained and equipped by Samaritan’s Purse) to help grow the child’s faith and give them a foundation. After they have completed the 12 weeks they then have a Graduation Party.
And you guessed it they invite family, friends, and neighbors to this Graduation Ceremony and… they hear the Gospel message. That’s an amazing strategy!”
Take a minute and watch this video to see how exciting this is:
When asked what the most important thing she would like people to know about Operation Christmas Child, this is what Teresa told me. “I would like people to realize that packing a shoebox is more than giving a few trinkets as a gift. It is about giving HOPE in a shoebox. Without hope people will perish. We all need hope for a better tomorrow.
And that is why I LOVE Operation Christmas Child. Giving HOPE in a Shoebox ONE Child at a time.”
So what is the worth of a shoebox? When used as the vessel to carry hope to millions the only answer I can think of is priceless.
You can be a part of Giving HOPE in a Shoebox ONE Child at a time. I would like to invite everyone reading this to get involved and pack a shoebox this year. Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that will tell you everything you need to know to get involved.